The secret lives of color / Kassia St. Clair.

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  • Additional Information
    • Abstract:
      Summary: "The unforgettable, unknown history of colors and the vivid stories behind them in a beautiful multi-colored volume The Secret Lives of Color tells the unusual stories of seventy-five fascinating shades, dyes and hues. From blonde to ginger, the brown that changed the way battles were fought to the white that protected against the plague, Picasso's blue period to the charcoal on the cave walls at Lascaux, acid yellow to kelly green, and from scarlet women to imperial purple, these surprising stories run like a bright thread throughout history. In this book, Kassia St. Clair has turned her lifelong obsession with colors and where they come from (whether Van Gogh's chrome yellow sunflowers or punk's fluorescent pink) into a unique study of human civilization. Across fashion and politics, art and war, the secret lives of color tell the vivid story of our culture. "A mind-expanding tour of the world without leaving your paintbox. Every color has a story, and here are some of the most alluring, alarming, and thought-provoking."--Simon Garfield, author of Just My Type"-- Provided by publisher.
    • Content Notes:
      Color vision: how we see -- Simple arithmetic: on light -- Building the palette: artists and their pigments -- Vintage paint charts: mapping color -- Chromophilia, chromophobia: politics of color -- Colorful language: do words shape the shades we see? -- Glossary of other interesting colors.
    • Notes:
      Originally published in UK under title: The secret lives of colour.
      Includes bibliographical references and index.
    • Other Titles:
      Secret lives of colour
    • ISBN:
    • Accession Number:
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  • Citations
    • ABNT:
      ST. CLAIR, K. The secret lives of color. [s. l.]: Penguin Books, 2017. ISBN 9780143131144. Disponível em: Acesso em: 28 fev. 2020.
    • AMA:
      St. Clair K. The Secret Lives of Color. Penguin Books; 2017. Accessed February 28, 2020.
    • APA:
      St. Clair, K. (2017). The secret lives of color. Penguin Books.
    • Chicago/Turabian: Author-Date:
      St. Clair, Kassia. 2017. The Secret Lives of Color. Penguin Books.
    • Harvard:
      St. Clair, K. (2017) The secret lives of color. Penguin Books. Available at: (Accessed: 28 February 2020).
    • Harvard: Australian:
      St. Clair, K 2017, The secret lives of color, Penguin Books, viewed 28 February 2020, .
    • MLA:
      St. Clair, Kassia. The Secret Lives of Color. Penguin Books, 2017. EBSCOhost,
    • Chicago/Turabian: Humanities:
      St. Clair, Kassia. The Secret Lives of Color. Penguin Books, 2017.
    • Vancouver/ICMJE:
      St. Clair K. The secret lives of color [Internet]. Penguin Books; 2017 [cited 2020 Feb 28]. Available from:


Booklist Reviews 2017 September #1

London-based journalist St. Clair sports a fetishistic love of color—more specifically, of the way color is described and translated across linguistic barriers. She first fell in lust while studying fashion and lifestyle trends of the eighteenth century. St. Clair found descriptions of color and hue downright titillating. In this digestible anthology of chromatic origin stories, readers have a chance to join in St. Clair's obsession. The collection of informative essays is organized by color family. For example, readers will learn about the vast differences between saffron, amber, and ginger in quick succession. Visual artists will relish the scientific exploration of pigments and stains, but every reader will enjoy the ample supply of answers to some of life's biggest questions, such as: Which orange came first, the color or the fruit? (The fruit.) Why do we call it "pitch" black? (Complete darkness tends to throw us off balance.) Including an index and suggested further reading, The Secret Lives of Color holds surprise and satisfaction at every striation of the rainbow. Copyright 2017 Booklist Reviews.

PW Reviews 2017 June #3

London-based writer St. Clair delivers a mix of science, humor, and art history in this collection of bite-size essays on the cultural and social lore of colors based on her column in British Elle Decoration. The author arranges her color commentary in blocks: color entries start with white and end with black; in between, St. Clair tells the stories of colors unglamorous (umber) and obscure (gamboge) with those that kill (orpiment pigment is around 60% arsenic) or change (verdigris is the green patina that results when copper is exposed to air). She explores etymologies (buff from buffalo) and sprinkles wit (taupe, French for mole, is "browner than a mole had a right to be") throughout the collection. Her sentences guarantee sustained reading: "Balthasar Gérard was the Lee Harvey Oswald of his day"; the word heliotrope fills "the mouth like a rich, buttery sauce." St. Clair's rhetoric beautifies the form of the brief essay. (Oct.)

Copyright 2017 Publisher Weekly.